Are you feeling the feels today?
A mentor once asked me what breaks my heart. We were discussing life purpose through business. I was surprised I said, "I wish parents didn't f*ck up their kids like mine f*cked me up." This was eons ago when I was a spiritual chickling lol!
I had no idea what I meant was, "I wish my ego hadn't recruited my inner Destroyer, Punisher and Perpetrator to build a lifelong prison of suffering from one single unintended (or well intended, but non-resonant) parental act."
Here are my 5 lessons on grief from raising 2 parents, 2 siblings, 5 ex-boyfriends and a six-figure business.
1. GIRLS WILL HURT EACH OTHER UNTIL THEY BECOME WOMEN
In middle school, I couldn't find my history notes for next day's exam. Some girls helped me look all the way into the schoolyard. I had my first out of body experience, looking down at my hands wondering, "But I never come out here. But maybe I did. Am I losing my mind?"
Turns out, they were keeping me occupied so they could photocopy my notes, which I eventually found in my classroom bookcase, where I always kept it. They could have just asked. I would have paid out of pocket to make each of them a copy, with a bow on top.
In what world do we live in that little mean girls gaslight little kind girls? Answer: In a world where girls don't feel safe… to be themselves or just safe, period. I know I lost my sense of safety at 3.5 and have never fully found it back. Only when women become queens, and fully reclaim their safety, will they stop hurting other girls.
2. WATCHING THE LIGHT DIM IS HEARTBREAKING
Witnessing, in retrospect of course, how no one was there and capable of guarding my light… is one of the deepest sorrows I've ever had to face. They say forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different. I think I have… which means I haven't fully… or I would have said, "I have." without the work "think" wedged in there.
3. BECOMING AWARE OF THE DIMMING IS EVEN MORE HEARTBREAKING
As an Aquarius, I belong to the sky. From aerial silk 10 meter slack drops and handgliding / paragliding / microlighting to ziplining upside down to Macchu Piccu. So a 1 meter trust fall should have been a piece of cake.
I championed everyone through their trust fall and suddenly wanted to feel invisible. I stepped up onto the platform, turned around and… everything faded to black. When I came to, I was still stood there, drenched in my own tears, heartbroken. I couldn't do the trust fall... because I had no trust to fall in to.
Trust was stolen from me at 3.5, when I was catapulted from toddler to emotional and financial rock for the family. Grieving something I never had, such as trust, was as real as grieving a loved one's death... maybe even harder, since there are no social rituals or funeral caretakers for laying to rest the loss of innocence.
(Read Rising Strong by Brené Brown for more on trauma and grief.)
4. LULLABIES ARE FOR ADULTS TOO
At the very top of the frozen Norwegian tundra, I dragged a thermal mat away from my tour group, which in itself was a superhuman feat for an introverted woman, to choose beauty / awe / silence over small talk, without fear of tribal expulsion and/or abandonment.
Feeling empowered, I rolled over on my back like a Michelin tire man, in double layers of snow suit and thermal suit, watching the green and purple Aurora Borealis waltz in the night sky. I closed my eyes and I heard the lights sing... They sang me a lullaby.
Tears streamed down my face and my body curled up, convulsing in pain. The green lullaby released the tears of an orphan child who had "no right" to grief the loss of her innocence. "Man up! It's every child's duty to raise and retire their parents," a voice said. "You had two parents, so shut up about it," the voice emphasized.
Little Ella never got a "right" to feel this immense injustice. The more I cried, the less I felt alone. A loving embrace enveloped me from every direction, in every moment, holding me, singing to me like I needed my mom to. This was definitely NOT advertised on the Northern Lights brochure.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
5. LIBERATION CAN HAPPEN IN AN INSTANT… PLUS 10 YEARS
At another retreat, we had 24 hours of silence. "Sweet Jesus, there is a heaven on Earth!!!" I thought. I lay on a bench, watching the clouds. Out of nowhere, I felt a clench in my core, heard "I can't do this anymore," and began convulsing in agonizing pain and tears.
It would be another 5 years until I recognized that as a moment of surrender. I couldn't keep striving to be the best white man I could be. The rewards were not worth the price.
For the first time ever, I heard myself say, "I need help." And within 12 seconds, my tribemate Monna lifted my head, placed it on her lap, and stroked my hair, as she sat with me. I thought, "Wow, that was fast!" and was delighted to recognize that amidst agony, there is help, there is comfort, there is love.
There are no overnight sensations, but there are plenty of "10 years plus 1 night" sensations. Liberation and surrender are like that too: an instant... plus the 10 years (even lifetimes) before that contributed to that instant.
IN THE END...
How does your "10 years plus 1 night" story end? I know mine ends with, "God dang! I gotta stop raising other people's kids."
ASK ELLA • Q&A
Question • I just read your post on the price of following your heart, do you have any tips on how to deal with the terror and pain? I would love to get the rewards but I really don't know how much more of this I can cope with.
Answer • Dear darling, I'm happy you reached out. I was just about to write a blog post on this (see below). The one thing I can share with you that I KNOW to be true: there is no pain we can't bare. Our ego-mind fools us to believe that it's all too much, we'll die if we keep going. The truth is, it will die if we keep healing. Tremendous suffering is caused by the ego-mind latching on, resisting itsdeath.
Be comforted in this truth: the high intensity and/or frequency of your pain cannot be sustained. We can't sustain it. Life, the Universe itself, can't sustain it. The pain does end. And a different pain may or may not start again. And that pain will also end. I've been there, over and over and over. And what lies beyond is so beautiful. So real. So pure. So "everything you've ever wanted" x10,000. I've been there too.
It takes courage to live a brave life... Where do you source courage, darling?